Sasquatch Music Festival 2013




I have been going to festivals for a decade now and this was my 2nd Sasquatch Festival, so I thought I would write a blog post...mainly to document the weekend for my own benefit, but you may find it a useful recap if you were there, or a summary of what you may have missed.



While the Gorge is famous for being incredibly picturesque, (and is likely one of the best backdrops for a concert in the world), it is equally famous for not allowing pictures to do it justice.  Here is an attempt: ( here are others.)



While the weather at the Gorge can be unpredictable and challenging, it does consistently tend to yield beautiful scenery. It seems whenever you peel your eyes away from a stage, a beautiful skyscape awaits you. 

Raining across the Gorge.
 
Stage of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Wow.

Amazing sky from our campsite.
Sasquatch upped their game this year a little on visual appeal (aka: "art"), including this reflecting festival logo,
which I absolutely love. Thanks Sasquatch. More along these lines PLEASE!


Our Camp
We had a good crew this year.
We put up some flags and some solar-powered lanterns as beacons to guide us home. 
With our powers combined we pulled together a nice campsite.
We made friends with our Montana neighbors.
We took turns preparing a hearty breakfast which was an awesome idea.
I was quite pleased with the aesthetic and functionality of our campsite this year.

Oh, and there was music too !


I thought I would share my experience, thoughts, and reviews on the shows I saw. For the full line-up or schedule you can check the Sasquatch website or Last.fm’s Sasquatch Festival Page.

Also, keep in mind that all pictures were taken from a real-person point of view. I don’t have a press pass! If someone wants to buy me a press pass and pay me to do this professionally it would change my life. Please do.

Although I did record a lot of video on my smartphone, all of the audio is crap, so I will spare you, and only share some of the better YouTube videos. I cherry-picked the better ones. There are many more.


I believe this was the first show I caught of the weekend, and I recall it was loud, noisy, and annoying. Not my kind of music. So we dipped out.

A friend described them as an off-brand  Band of Horses. That seemed kind of on-point. From the few songs I heard they sounded ok, and I'll be looking into them further.

This band is lead by the drummer from one of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes. Having recently discovered their album Fear Fun, I was very excited to hear some of the songs which I love from the album. This show was an interesting one. It was nice to fulfill my need to see them live, and I enjoyed his quirky goofy stage-presence which consists of kind of prancing around making sarcastic faces and silly hand-gestures. It occurred to me during the set that his look is that of Jim Morrison. And I mean the later, sloppy, Jim Morrison towards the end, but he pulls it off quite well.


See the resemblance to the late-in-life Mr. Mojo Risin ?
Father John Misty - Nancy 


My take on Fear Fun is that it is a good album with some amazingly beautiful songs, some very interesting songs, (and some total crap songs). Apparently most of the album was written and inspired when Tillman went on a mushroom-fueled roadtrip/pilgrimage with no destination, and the end result was an album, a novel, and many revelations which manifest themselves in this interesting album.
It was good set. It was a better setting to see them at night with the right lighting, as opposed to when I saw them during the day Capitol Hill Block Party last year. I appreciate the ability to compare and contrast seeing them live on two consecutive album tours.

Their sophomore album, Wonderous Bughouse, isn't as serene as The Year of Hibernation, but I think they are exploring a more artistic surreal territory here, and I think it has some serious potential. Seeing much of it performed live has only reassured me of this potential. This is one of those albums that you have to earn an appreciation for through continued listens, but the payoff is well worth it.

There is something really great about this album, but I cannot really pinpoint what about it meshes so well with my brain. I'm excited to continue listening in an attempt to find out. Trevor Powers describes the album as being "based around the idea of psychological dysphoria, [and he] tried to document the trails of his mind through songs of minimalism and hypnotic ambiance." Maybe I relate to his psychological dysphoria, who knows? More interesting description of the album here.

Wonderous Bughouse


Youth Lagoon
Youth Lagoon - Cannons   


Youth Lagoon - Mute
We hopped over to catch the opening of this set, before a stampeding mob began running us over. I hafta say, I don’t get the degree of obsession over this band, and I never have. I have given this band several chances to impress me live, and I am still getting nothing.
  
We were down on the terraces for the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis set (which is fantastic viewing area of the Gorge), and it was EPIC! Although Macklemore may be a rapper, he had the persona of a rock star, and this was a full out rock show. I have listened to The Heist several times, and appreciate most of it, and love several songs, but following this show I have a new respect for Macklemore and crew. This set really was epic, from the moment he rose on a pedestal into the air from the extended stage platform, to when he rocked the house with “And We Danced”. I could watch this set over and over.

Macklemore emerging from the stage on a raised pedestal, being a  rock god.


My original thought was that this show was going to be lack-luster, but what I failed to realize was that this is practically Macklemore’s home turf, and if not for pulling out all the stops (and sparing no expense) to please the NorthWest, it also provided a rare chance to bring the full roster of featured performers from The Heist onto the stage. I believe he brought out every featured artist (and there are a lot), except  for Allen Stone. I was a bit surprised that Allen Stone didn't join, as he is another up-and-coming Washington artist. Anyway, it was an awesome set! 

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Can't Hold Us   

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Same Love



Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Thrift Shop

I didn’t know this band, and I still don’t, but I seem to recall that their show was good.

Festival Regret: I forgot to go check out Indians, who was playing at the same time as Atlas Genius. Bummer. Indians is a band worth checking out! They sound kind of like Youth Lagoon (but the Danish version). Somewhere Else is a solid and beautiful album. Give it a listen.

Michael Kiwanuka
I seem to recall enjoying what I heard.

I was about as far back on the lawn as you can get, and it was far too loud! I put in earplugs and it was still too loud. I bet the music would be ok if I could hear it through my bleeding eardrums, but I’ll never know. Hey Sasquatch-sound-people, music quality is not judged purely by volume!

Kyle Kinane (Comedian)
I was pumped to see him, having seen many funny YouTube videos. It was a funny set, but not amazing. He spent too much time making fun of the audience and not making funny. I like his homeless-person persona better. Watch this one.

Kyle Kinane
Bloc party has been a favorite of mine for a long time, so I was very glad to finally be able to see them live. They played some of the old favorites which I appreciated. The lead singer is fairly animated which makes them fun to watch. I wish I would have caught more of their set. 
Bloc Party
Bloc Party - Banquet
A Thing Called Divine Fits, having been a great album from 2012, I was excited to see this supergroup. They did not disappoint. They also did a cover of Tom Petty's "You Got Lucky", which I appreciated. It was great.


Divine Fits

Divine Fits - Shivers 
This was likely one of the best shows of the festival. I have loved Surfer Blood since they released Astro Coast, which is a masterpiece from an unlikely group of young dudes. I did not expect them to rock so hard, perform so well, and put on a spot-on show, all while maintaining the stage presence of a group of introverted wallflowers. It was awesome and the crowd was way into it. They should change their name to Crowd-Surfer-Blood as it was nonstop crowd surfing. There was also an unexpectedly active moshing area, and not-so-unexpected sing-alongs. Such a good damn show.

The sky was beautiful during Surfer Blood.
There were many crowd surfers.
Looking quite calm, but rocking so hard.
Surfer Blood - Take It Easy


Surfer Blood - Swim 
This set was moved to different stage and the start time was all mysterious, so I think it went on in competition with Sigur Ros, but I caught a few songs after the Sigur Ros set, and it sounded good. Wish the festival didn’t drop the ball on this one, and I could have caught this whole set.

I know nothing about this band (or DJ?), except that we wandered into the dance tent for a brief second and enjoyed it. But the dance tent has a tendency to give off that vibe regardless of what is being played, with its LED light displays from the future and seizure-inducing visuals.

This was a beautiful set on many different levels: musically, visually, aesthetically, and spiritually. I thoroughly enjoyed this set. Beautiful music from some made-up language, set to interesting visuals including some nice stage-lighting that distracted the crowd from the signature chilly night-breeze of the Gorge. Great set.

Sigur Rós - Hoppípolla

I had a hunch this show was going to be visually rewarding. Those who had no context for this band, it must have seemed quite bizarre. I enjoyed hearing several of my favorite songs from Walking on a Dream, an obscure album (that I happen to love), from an obscure band which I was excited to see at the festival.  I looked forward to the absurdity and novelty which I only assumed they possessed live, and in this regard they did not disappoint.

The show was chock full of ridiculous costumes, costume-changes, synchronized dancers, and visuals on par with maybe a more sci-fi/fantasy of Montreal set. Sound quality left a bit to be desired, but had I not been so tired from a long day of epic rock shows, I may have worked my way through the late-night crowd of zombies to get a closer look/listen, but alas it wasn’t to be. It was totally worth seeing and sated my need for an absurd novelty band. Unfortunately I wasn't close enough to get any good pictures.

Empire of the Sun - We are the People 



This band is new to me. To my knowledge I have never heard them, HOWEVER through some voodoo I know their hit song “We Come Running,” and maybe unbeknownst to you, you do too! I cannot explain this phenomenon, I can only assume we are all born knowing this song…? But regardless it is a great uplifting song and I think this band has potential to be a fun band. The set was fun and most of what I heard has a certain funness to it, but only time (and actual listens) will tell if this is more than some kinda anthemic one-hit-wonder.  I did enjoy gazing across the Gorge while they sang the lyrics “Look across the great divide, Soon they're gunna hear, The sound, the sound, the sound, When we come running!”

Youngblood Hawke

Youngblood Hawke - We Come Running 

This was an alright set. I happen to love shoegaze, but this being the 2nd time I have seen DIIV live, and giving their album Oshin a healthy chance, I still feel they leave something to be desired. Maybe he doesn’t actually gaze at his shoes enough for my liking….? I don’t know, I enjoyed the set, but I get the feeling this band is a bit over-rated.

There were many great artists on this year’s line-up, but none of them sealed-the-deal for me like Fang Island being on the list. When I read through festival line-ups, my eyes sprinting down the list, my heart racing in anticipation, my heart usually starts pounding around the mid-list area where those awesome and/or obscure indie bands reside. When I saw Fang Island was gonna be there, I clicked “Add to Cart!,”  “Add to Cart!”.

Fang Island Shredding
They are a fantastic group that seriously know how to rock and are in my opinion, one the most under-rated bands of all time, which is unfortunate. Their albums are awesome guitar rock anthems interwoven with mind-melting solos and epic choruses. If Rock was a religion then the Fang Island discography could be it's hymnal. Their self-titled album is an absolute masterpiece and rocks my face off every time I listen to it. I love this band.

So for the festival I commissioned Tess to make this awesome shirt to spread the word and support a great band. The story behind this is: the band once described their music as “Everyone High-Fiving Everyone”, (which is a spot-on description), and that fantastic mental-image became a popular way to describe the band. And in a microcosm of the internet known as Last.fm, on the Everyone High-Fiving Everyone genre-tag pagea funny meme evolved that this tag should only be applied to Fang Island. Anyway, I think it is the best tag to ever be applied to anything, and thus I thought it would make cool T-shirt. And Fang Island agreed!

My Fang Island T-shirt. Thanks Tess!

Band evangelism. 


Showing off my T-shirt homage to Fang Island at the Meet-n-Greet.
I got in just in time to meet the band following there festival interview and they loved the shirt. I told them they rocked, and after they Instagramed my T-shirt, they were off to prepare for a fantastic set.

Their set was a nice mix of songs from the Fang Island and Major albums and totally rocked as expected. I was disappointed at the crowd turn-out for the show, which only proved to me what I had assumed, which is that they are far too unknown! There was a healthy mosh-pit on the other side of the crowd and a lot of high-fiving, but not nearly to the degree to which it should have been.



Yes, they rock so hard that they can fly.
I highly recommend both of the following epic albums by Fang Island. Do me a personal favor and grace your ears with this awesomeness.

Fang Island - Fang Island

Fang Island - Major 
The Tallest Man on Earth
I thought that I knew this band, but I think I was thinking of some other band. And this guy is not that tall… 

The Tallest Man on Earth
This is one of the bands that I had nothing more than a misconception about, due to their misleading festival biography picture, and crappy band name. Turns out this guy is not some dunce kicked out of the insane clown posse (for not wearing enough make-up), as his bio pic would lead you to believe, but instead some dude who has a repertoire of seemingly beautiful songs. And judging by the crowd involvement, several are worthy of a sing-along. I will definitely be investigating this further, as some of the songs seemed to be in a similar vein to some music that I enjoy.

This is how Radical Face is represented by his bio picture.
Turns out, you cannot judge a band solely on their bio pic.
Radical Face
Radical Face - Welcome Home

Shout Out Louds
Unfortunately the memory of this band blends together with several other bands which were new to me and were probably also from Sweden. I believe I enjoyed what I saw. Is it just me, or is the Scandinavian region being overly prolific with cranking out bands recently? It seems like half the bands I hear about are from Sweden, etc. I have no problem with that.

Shout Out Louds
I was excited for the Grimes show. I blindly saw her at the 2012 Capitol Hill Block Party, and was intrigued. I then listened to Visions quite a bit, and she has been hyped for a while now, so I was then more excited to see her again live. This show had everything going for it: a large venue, massive crowds, darkness, a lot of hype, over the top show extras complete with dancers and lights, etc. But I was underwhelmed.

I enjoyed seeing the few songs that I needed to see live (but was a bit unhappy with how they translated live). Maybe it was just that I was too far back (due to the absurd crowd), or that I was surrounded by a bunch of kids (even younger than Grimes herself), who thought just having a glowstick in their hands makes a show epic. It kind of tarnished a good album. Anyway, her last song was a new one and a good one and was a dance off.

Grimes
Grimes - Oblivion  
I like this band… half of the time. The other half just sounds like the too much of the first half, in a bad way.  I cannot deny that this is a very talented band who have captured a sound and done very well with (and I love a few of their songs). It’s just that after a certain point I get annoyed with them being … Mumfordy. 
That did not stop me from standing up for some of their more toe-tapping ditties to feel the overwhelming crowd energy. When they flashed on the crowd spotlights it was quite a spectacle to see 20-30 thousand people getting down on the hillside. The energy alone made the show worth it. I like to think that this band brings out the white in white-people. Deep down inside every one of us (white people atleast) lives an innate urge to dance with disregard to the jangly sounds of a banjo, a washboard, and a haybale (or whatever instruments they have in this band). But they did rock that haybale for the night, and so props to them.

Primus 3D
Although I am familiar with Primus, and their cult following, but have never really been a fan of their music. When I saw them billed as “Primus 3D”, I wrote it off as nothing more than a social commentary on the hyped-up flop which is the 3D fad, etc, as if they were saying jokingly, “hey look at us, we are here in reality and are 3-dimensional”. I did however suspect that Primus would do something visually interesting and/or weird.

It wasn’t until during the show, when looking around I noticed that everyone did in fact have on 3D glasses. At this point in the night I was quite tired, and almost wrote-off this whole charade as the most gimmicky novelty I have encountered at a show. Just then, 3D glasses appeared out of the ether, and changed my feeble tired little mind. While I really dis-liked the entire set’s worth of music, I thoroughly enjoyed this genius utilization of this contemporary novelty. Now unfortunately, there is no way to show you what this was like (I can’t put 3D glasses on my camera!), but I’ll do my best to explain it.

The band was playing, and there were psychedelic visuals emanating from the large LED screen behind Les Claypool and those visuals floated out, meandering into the crowd, seemingly right up to you, as if you could reach out and grab them. It was visually one of the coolest show gimmicks to date.

Primus 3D !



We got into the venue “early” (around 2:00pm) to catch the end of this set. I am no expert in the genre, but this is not what I would really call Rockabilly. It was ok. I may look it up.

Tig Notaro (Comedienne)
Upon recommendation from the great Louis C.K., we made a point to catch this show. And while all the comedians of this festival did nothing but bring disgrace and embarrassment to the comedy tent, Tig Notaro was awesome. She is so naturally funny, with perfect comedic timing and a brilliant stage presence. A good portion of the set was improv and involved interacting with the crowd; all very much on-point and fun. I was very much into this set and I highly recommend seeing her if you get a chance.

Mike Birbiglia (Comedian)
This guy was pretty funny and told stories and anecdotes. There was an awkward moment when one of the audience members up front passed out, and Mike stopped the show to get him some water and make sure he was ok. After the guy was revived and walking out, Mike managed to include a crack about the guy which was pretty funny. He handled it all surprisingly seamlessly, so props to him. It was an overall funny set. 

This band seems like it has some potential, with some rocking jams. I’ll be checking them out.

Imagine Dragons - Radioactive

This was a rainy set, which we caught the first bit of. I heard some of the avant-garde harmonies that the Dirty Projectors are famous for.  That was good enough to cover my need to see them live for pretty much forever, I think.
Rainy set for Dirty Projectors

Caught some of this set, which I recall being interesting.

This band has apparently been a Portland staple for some time. I recall being unimpressed.

I was very excited for this throwback, expecting a sing-along tromp down memory lane. I enjoyed the  massive crowd sing-along, but it wasn't quite as fulfilling as I had hoped. I felt like being a Cake fan dated me (my favorite Cake album came out in 1998!...15 years ago. Wow!). They seem a little washed-up, and their songs don’t translate as well live as I’d like, (this is predictable given their odd timing, etc). It was very nice to see them live, as I have been debating dropping the cash to see them for years.

Cake
After a little festival ramp-up research, I was excited to catch a few songs from this set. They are like a modern-day Buffalo Springfield or The Byrds, and I think they pull off this emulation very well. I will definitely be following this band.

This was the best find in my festival research, and I think we will all be hearing quite a bit of justified hype surrounding this interesting project. I think this band has a very interesting sound going for them, and while I have no idea what the hell they are saying most of the time (kinda like of Bon Iver), I love the overall sound they got going for them.  It was fun to dance around in a silly, funky fashion and attempt to sing along, which mostly came out sounding like baby-talk.

Alt-J
Alt-J - Taro  


Alt-J - Fitzpleasure


My take on An Awesome Wave. I love this album! There is something new and refreshing about this band, and I think it is a solid album. There is a bit of filler that loses replay value upon further listens, but it is all labeled “Intro” and “Interlude”, etc for your convenience. Although, I highly recommend you listen to the album straight through the first few times, as it was meant to be played with these interludes setting the mood, and then skip them later as needed.
This bizarre band has had my ear for some time now, and I find myself strangely intrigued by their weird lyrics and the odd cadence of their music. I would call it avant-garde psychedelic acid-rock, plucked right out of some weird  '70’s disco music scene, but that doesn’t quite capture the essence as well as this awesome Last.fm tag: “Mutant Alien Porno Soundtrack”, which I feel is pretty much hits the nail on the head.

After reading that they don’t translate well live, I was worried this could be a let down (even though that advice was from one random person on Reddit). I whole-heartedly believed it given the complexity of the music, but I decided to swing by and catch what I could. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they were far better live than I thought they would be. I enjoyed hearing some of my favorites before having to dip out (which may have been a huge mistake).

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
Ariel Pinks Haunted Graffiti - Round And Round 

When I saw this The Postal Service billed on the line-up, I was pretty excited. I mean this is a band that defined an era of indie music and they are practically mythical, being an essentially non-touring band. 10 years ago they cranked out an exceptional, novel album, and then disappeared into the ether, (although they have all been busy since, and Ben Gibbard has been quite prolific).

So I was excited to see what was in-store for Sasquatch, especially being that Gibbard is a Seattle native. We went all the way down to the pit area for the show. It was a nice surprise when Jenny Lewis walked out on the stage. I had forgotten she was the female vocalist on the album and it was a really cool bonus to see them do the cutesy back-and-forth of “Nothing Better” live for the 10 year anniversary of the album! I am big fan of everything that Jenny Lewis has done musically, so I think I was more excited to see her there than anyone else.

The Postal Service featuring Jenny Lewis  
While this was a great show, and everything was done very well, it’s not really the kind of music a crowd can really get into. It’s just the nature of the music, so that kind of lessened my impression of the show, but overall it was great to see and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Give Up performed live, after what would have been 10 years of anticipation, had we all not given up on seeing them live 9 years ago.

They did a fair amount of new songs, which in my standard fashion, I am very skeptical about. Only further listens will either confirm or deny of my skepticism.
The Postal Service
The Postal Service - Such Great Heights

The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight

Some stuff that I didn't catch, but luckily there is YouTube!

Baauer - Harlem Shake



Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros - 40 Day Dream


Dropkick Murphys - I'm Shipping up to Boston

The xx - VCR


A few more pictures of our crew.

Tess and I in front of our campsite.











Obligatory pic with the festival mascot.

A special thanks to Eliot and Tess for sharing their photos.  and Thanks to YouTubers for all the videos.
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